COVID-19 tests: the optimism of the Secretary of Health is not shared by people in social charge | UK News


If there is one message I learned from meeting with nursing home owners, nurses and support staff this week, it is that they are desperate for coronavirus testing.

Everyone is.

Without testing, retirement homes don’t know who has coronavirus and who didn’t. And this stranger turns out to be deadly.

The virus is now spreading in retirement homes like a forest fire and kills the most fragile in its wake.

Earlier this weekend, I spent 12 hours in a nursing home or COVID-19 is widespread. In just two weeks, more than 40 residents caught the virus. Eight unfortunately died. A nurse said it was just the beginning.

Nursing home where half the residents have a coronavirus
Newfield Nursing Home, where half of the residents have a coronavirus

Staff had fragile plastic aprons and inappropriate masks. They were worried.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was optimistic on Sunday in his assessment of how the NHS is coping. But his optimism is not shared by those in charge.

And to understand why nursing homes are important, you need to understand how they fit into the healthcare chain.

Nurse Laura Hibbard

Home nurse: “We haven’t even reached our worst point”

A large number of nursing homes serve as overflows for hospitals.

When hospital services are full, nursing homes are paid to provide beds to withstand the pressure.

These beds are called “intermediate care” beds and the NHS cannot fill them quickly enough at this time.

In fact, earlier this month, the NHS contacted some of the largest care providers and told them to block the reservation of all their intermediate care beds for the next 12 weeks – effectively extending the usual period of crisis. annual winter until spring in case COVID -19 was as bad as feared.

It might not be a problem if the care managers knew whether those coming from the hospital had COVID-19 or not. But it’s not always the case.

Nicola Richards is Director of Palms Row Health Care, which operates three nursing homes in Sheffield

Nicola Richard, head of the nursing home: “We have never seen anything like this”

Nursing home managers told me that more and more patients are coming from hospitals without being tested for COVID-19 and that this is contributing to higher infection rates among staff and residents.

Residents need more care as sickness rates for staff skyrocket and it’s a deadly combination.

Pam Banwait is director of Strong Life Care, a nursing home provider with locations in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

The company currently cares for 200 elderly residents in need of residential care and dementia and employs 250 people.

Residents have symptoms of COVID-19, but society has no tests and therefore cannot say for sure who needs protection.

Banwait said, “We have to test. I cannot strengthen it enough. We need to know if they have the virus and we can only do this with tests. They should be made as available as possible.

“Even if we have been locked out for three weeks, we run the risk of bringing COVID-19 into our homes without our knowledge and it could ultimately cost lives. “

Another care manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “They do not systematically test patients before they go to a care home. I have been personally informed that it is not mandatory.

“I have also been informed that residents will not be admitted to the hospital.

“They receive what can only be described as a death sentence. “

Another health care worker emailed, “I work in a nursing home and a resident has just returned from the hospital without a COVID-19 test and was told to isolate the person.

“We can’t test to see if the caregivers have it. So we cannot make informed decisions about who to protect. They no longer have hand gel or PPE. “

Currently, some patients leaving the hospital are being tested.

For example, if they were in an intensive care unit or were treated for pneumonia. But the vast majority of patients are not tested.

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I asked the secretary of health if he could guarantee at all levels that tests would be available.

He said, “I can. They arrive. Last week, we were able to open the tests to nursing home staff.

“Some of the most vulnerable live in nursing homes, especially nursing homes, so getting it right is very important. “

As the days go by, the number of employees and residents infected with COVID-19 increases steadily.

Many more elderly and frail people will die and those caring for them are likely to die as well from this virus.

The big problem for the government is that it cannot get enough test kits. There are not enough of them.

The truth is that they will be distributed to those who need them most.

And the elderly run the risk of getting to the bottom of the queue.


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